Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 2211–2217 | Cite as

Brief Report: Examining Driving Behavior in Young Adults with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Study Using a Driving Simulation Paradigm

  • Bryan Reimer
  • Ronna Fried
  • Bruce Mehler
  • Gagan Joshi
  • Anela Bolfek
  • Kathryn M. Godfrey
  • Nan Zhao
  • Rachel Goldin
  • Joseph Biederman
Brief Report

Abstract

Although it is speculated that impairments associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will adversely affect driving performance, little is known about the actual extent and nature of the presumed deficits. Ten males (18–24 years of age) with a diagnosis of high functioning autism and 10 age matched community controls were recruited for a driving simulation experiment. Driving behavior, skin conductance, heart rate, and eye tracking measurements were collected. The high functioning ASD participants displayed a nominally higher and unvaried heart rate compared to controls. With added cognitive demand, they also showed a gaze pattern suggestive of a diversion of visual attention away from high stimulus areas of the roadway. This pattern deviates from what is presumed to be optimal safe driving behavior and appears worthy of further study.

Keywords

Driving behavior High functioning autism spectrum disorder Distraction Cognitive workload Driving simulation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryan Reimer
    • 1
  • Ronna Fried
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bruce Mehler
    • 1
  • Gagan Joshi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anela Bolfek
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kathryn M. Godfrey
    • 1
  • Nan Zhao
    • 1
  • Rachel Goldin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joseph Biederman
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.New England University Transportation CenterMassachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLabCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHDMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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